Aaron Rodgers is under contract through 2023 when he will turn 40. The Packers drafted Jordan Love in 2020 to seemingly be the replacement when Rodgers walks off Lambeau Field for the final time. In 2020, Rodgers turned back the clock and had one of his best seasons. He threw for 48 touchdowns and won the league MVP. Rodgers carries a massive $38 million cap hit in 2021. If Rodgers’ deal is restructured, the Packers can save somewhere between $13-16 million on this year’s cap. The Packers could restructure Aaron’s contract in a few ways. The easiest way and the way to save the most for 2021 is converting some, most or all of Rodgers’ base salary of $14.7 million and roster bonus of $6.8 million into a signing bonus.
Current Cap Space
The Packers saved nearly $9 million in cap space with the recent releases of veterans Ricky Wagner and Christian Kirksey. They also restructured the contract of all-pro left tackle David Bahktiari. Bahktiari was due a massive $11 million roster bonus in March. Instead of handing $11 million over to Bahktiari, they converted his roster bonus into a signing bonus. This allows the Packers to spread out the $11 million over the remaining four years of his deal. In doing that, the Packers saved a little over $8 million in cap space.
The Packers still have work to do get under the cap, which is now being reported to be at least $180 million. Clearing another $13-16 million with Rodgers will get them to that mark. The Packers could then make other moves to be under the cap, giving them flexibility to bring in free agents.
After Jordan Love was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, instant speculation swirled around on when Rodgers would be departing the Packers. Would it be after 2020? Would it be 2-3 years to let Love develop, or would the Packers let Rodgers finish his contract? After his 2020 MVP season, it would be hard to argue moving on from Rodgers after 2021.
In their post-season press conference, both Head Coach Matt Lafleur and General Manager Brian Gutekunst stated they desire to see Rodgers in a Packers uniform for the near future. What better way to back their words with action than either extending Rodgers contract or restructuring his current deal, ensuring Rodgers to be around till 2023 or beyond.
The Packers have now been to the NFC Championship in back to back years. That is an accomplishment in itself, but as everyone knows, it is Super Bowl or bust. The Packers are clearly in win-now-mode. Rodgers will only be around for another three years max, assuming he finishes out his contract. Other key veterans will have contracts up in the near future.
The door is still open for the Packers as long as Rodgers is around, but as shown throughout his career and as great as he has been, he cannot do it alone. The Packers will need to continue to re-tool around Rodgers and focus on winning a championship while Rodgers is still in the building. Once Rodgers is gone, Love or whoever else will be at quarterback, will be no guarantee. As evidence around the rest of the league, quarterback is a prized possession many teams constantly seek to possess.
In restructuring Rodgers’ contract, the Packers not only create cap space for the immediate future, but also shows short term commitment a Packers legend and one of the greatest to ever play the game.